|Quarterback recruits want to see how BYU coaches handle Tanner Mangum (Photo: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)|
BYU quarterback Tanner Mangum is not having the kind of season anybody expected. He has completed 67 of 123 passes for 630 yards and two touchdowns with six interceptions. That translates into a 93.1 pass efficiency rating. He also missed two games due to injury.
Under Mangum's leadership, the BYU offense is making a strong case to be the worst offense in the country and in Cougar history. Despite no viable option behind him, many in Cougar country have lost all patience. They want to send Mangum to the bench.
The very poor start to the season is already taking a toll on BYU's 2018 recruiting class. Tevita Fotu and Jaren Kump changed their commitments from Cougar Blue to Ute Red. There is another big fish out there for whom BYU was assumed to be the front-runner: Tanner McKee.
McKee is a four-star quarterback, and a consensus top five recruit, nationally, at that position. While the overall success of the program matters to him, McKee is probably closely watching how the BYU coaching staff treats Mangum.
Kalani Sitake and Ty Detmer can't cater to the fans, and bench Mangum in favor of flavor-of-the-month Joe Critchlow without sending a very bad message to McKee and all other quarterback recruits.
Everyone wants the opportunity to play as early as possible, but they also want some job security after they prove themselves. Keep in mind, Tanner Mangum was the 2015 National Freshman on the Year. He passed for well over 3,000 yards and threw 23 touchdowns. He has on produced on the field.
Off the field, Mangum has demonstrated he is a team guy. Last year, he swallowed his pride and played back up to Taysom Hill. Not many college quarterbacks in Mangum's situation would relinquish the starting job.
This year, Mangum returned early from injury because that is what the team needed. He played at far less than 100 percent against Boise State, because he gave BYU its best chance to win.
Benching Mangum would send the message that Sitake and co. have no loyalty. If you have a slump, they won't help you through it. You sacrifice your stats and your health by playing injured, and they will just shrug their shoulders and say, "No big deal."
If the BYU coaches turn their back on Mangum, then what is going to stop them from turning their back on future quarterbacks?
This isn't like 2011 when BYU had Riley Nelson backing up Jake Heaps. Nelson started several games as a freshman at Utah State. He backed up Max Hall in 2009, and started the first three games of 2010. Joe Critchlow is a true freshman who spent the 2015 and 2016 seasons wearing a suit and tie. Untill 10 days ago, he was playing on the scout team.
The BYU coaches are handling the situation perfectly, from a recruiting perspective. It is a two-edged sword. As stated, McKee and future recruits are going to want loyalty and a fair chance to play as early as possible.
Offensive coordinator Ty Detmer has moved Critchlow to second on the depth chart. Detmer is giving Critchlow opportunities to gain experience and develop. Rather than use Austin Kafentzis or his nephew Koy to run out the final two minutes of the Boise State game, Detmer sent in Critchlow and called four pass plays. All signs point to Detmer being open to continue to find in-game opportunities for Critchlow to build experience.
Though the temptation may be there to move on from Mangum, Sitake and Detmer can't afford the recruiting backlash that would come from that hasty decision.
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